Today was much less hectic than previous days. Baligh our tour director moved the museum visits to today (although in the end we only had time for one) so that we can have time tomorrow to go early in the morning when the line forms for those non-Muslims who wish to visit the temple mount, access to which is restricted for non-Muslims to a few hours a day.
In Bethlehem, we visited the Church of Shepherds’ Field and the Church of the Nativity. We had lunch at The Bedouin Tent restaurant which is just what it sounds like – the “roof” is in fact a bedouin-style tent roof. The appetizers and salads, chicken, lamb, Arab pita bread and baklava were all delicious.
I was disappointed that we did not stop by the wall around Bethlehem, but I suppose it was probably the group’s fault for running late. We stopped at a souvenir shop and people bought all sorts of things…
Next we went to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Museum. It is for Israelis not merely a testament to a tragic past event but an important rationale for many of Israel’s current policies, aimed at ensuring that Israel is a country with a Jewish majority and thus a place that can be a refuge for Jews who ever find themselves persecuted in other parts of the world.
Although I had been before, I did manage to get to a few places that I did not last time. The Children’s Memorial is incredible. And towards the end of the main part of the museum, there is a place where you can access the Yad VaShem database of Holocaust victims. My Jewish ancestors came to the United States well before the rise of the Nazis in Germany, but the database confirmed what I suspected about why I have encountered only one other person with one of the family names.